By Jackie Morfesis
We have a personal relationship with Jesus. Seven words that changed the world. Seven words that change lives. Seven words that change the past and the future.
God sent His Son to become flesh and blood so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. He willingly went to Calvary so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. He took sin upon Himself so that we could be saved from sin. When He resurrected and defeated death with death, He did so that we too can be resurrected and have life eternal. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
Our faith is a relational faith. So, if someone tells you that the Christian faith walk is not about a personal relationship with the Lord and that the Lord does not speak to us, then rebuke what they have said, because it is neither godly nor scriptural. I cannot imagine being in relationship with anyone yet not speaking to them. Or not having open, fluid, and trusted communication. How can we follow someone as a disciple if we don’t know Him? Jesus even said – if you act like you don’t know me, I will testify to the Father that I don’t know you. We know him by His Word, both scripturally and personally.
Yet, that is exactly what we are saying as Christians when we say: “God does not speak to us”. Yes, He does. He speaks to His children, in all corners of the earth. He speaks to us in a myriad of ways. In ways bold and earth-shaking and in ways subtle as a whisper. He speaks to us in dreams, signs, and wonders. “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). He speaks to us through the messages He puts on someone else’s heart to give us. He speaks to us through the promptings He puts on our own hearts. He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit He gave us so we are not left as orphans.
He speaks to us at times quite literally and audibly. His Holy Word, the Bible, is God speaking to us. From beginning to end. A living and breathing testament to God speaking to us. When my mother who was living with me was approaching her passing, a presence filled my home with undeniable peace, and I heard very clearly and distinctly “Jackie, be not afraid”. Even my little dog stood at full attention knowing a presence had entered our home. God spoke directly to me when I was made homeless from an arson fire and as I stood there barefoot with the clothes on my back, watching our home burn to the ground, I asked Him who I was if I had nothing, and He said: You are my child.”
God speaks to us through divine appointments. Holy, sacred, and miraculous moments that only God can orchestrate. That God sets up before us, knowing full well that we will step into them fulfilling His purpose. Let’s pay attention to the promptings of our hearts and stop limiting God’s power and purpose through the limitations of our minds.
We should never put a limitation on God or His promises to us. Nor make bold sweeping and all-inclusive statements limiting our God, the God of infinite possibility. The God who makes all things possible. “All things are possible to those who believe” (Mark 9:23).
It’s not only wrong, it’s shameful and sinful to put limitations on our Lord and on what He can do to reach us. There is no one and nothing that can keep us from our God. “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39). Our sin is being too comfortable. We want a safe and comfortable faith. One where we are not challenged to hear God and to follow His plan and purpose over our lives. To truly live as He wants us to live. We want a faith where we don’t “rock the boat” or “trouble the waters”. We want a faith where we don’t have to speak up for God’s infinite love and mercy because we don’t really want the deep responsibility and challenge even danger to be God’s love and mercy. When in truth, it is our greatest blessing.
Certainly, we know that God is an ineffable mystery. We know that there are many layers to our faith walk. We know that God chooses what is revealed to us and at what time. But that does not mean that the one who “knew our inmost being and knit us in our mother’s womb” does not want to be known by us. Scripture tells us that He does. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 26:10).
We are to draw near to the Lord not only in our suffering but in every step of our faith walk. We are to pray unceasingly. Prayer is not a one-way circuit. Prayer is also not only “yes, no, or maybe” as is often said, as if the only prayer that can be prayed is a petition. Prayer is communion with our Lord and Savior, praise, loving worship, and the very backbone of our communication with God. Prayer is intimacy with God.
Let’s pray for our Orthodox clergy to have bold faith. Every single one. So instead of preaching that God is only the “ineffable mystery” that we can never know nor truly understand, whose Holy Word can only be interpreted by the prophets of yore, let’s claim our authority as His child, His disciple, and His ambassador in the Kingdom. Let’s hunger for His Word, speak His Word, and glorify Him by putting His words into action. Let’s have the courage to ask ourselves if we preach or truly believe that God does not speak to His children, perhaps it is because there was a time when He spoke to us, and we chose not to listen or heed the call and therefore rationalize our disobedience by saying it is not possible.
Every single Orthodox Christian should not only know how to pray but should be fearless in prayer knowing that we serve a God who hears us and still moves in our lives today as He did yesterday. We still serve a God who hears us, speaks to us, and who heals. We are called to be spiritual warriors and prayer warriors, yet how many Orthodox Christians have the courage to pray with authority? To pray knowing full well that God hears us? To lay hands on each other in His holy name that He is still the God that heals today? Most critically and importantly, to know that our God is not bound by the walls of our church but by the restrictions we ourselves put upon Him. He is with us. “And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)”
Let’s stop projecting our limitations on a limitless God. He created us. He loves us. He sent His Son to redeem and save us. We are His child. His disciple and Ambassador in the Kingdom. He has a plan for us all if we only believe in Him, listen to Him and follow Him. Every day is a new day to hear the Lord, serve the Lord, and testify to His glory.